The Local1928 Union executive has brought a negotiated settlement back to the members of the bargaining unit at NSP for a vote that will take place electronically between August 22nd and August 29th. The settlement provides some relief from the current pressure brought on by Outsourcing initiatives announced by NSP late in 2013 and early in 2014 and provides for future security, both in terms of job continuity and benefits. This agreement, if ratified by the membership, would exist as a Letter of Understanding, to be appended or incorporated into future contracts as long as it is in effect. NSP members, please contact the union hall for more information, or log on to the Members’ Section of this website for to review the reference documents.
There will be a rally this Friday at 10am in front of the Town of Antigonish Town Hall (274 Main Street, Antigonish) at 10am to support the locked out IBEW Local 1928 members with the electrical utility for the Town of Antigonish. Bring your noisemakers, your sunscreen, your singing voice, and your walking shoes.
The negotiating issue is around a removal of a payout for accumulated sick time at retirement. Though the Town's high-priced lawyer followed all the legal steps to put the workers in a lockout/strike position, the Town's position has always been that they would remove this benefit and pay what was owed at 30%. The negotiating committee offered several middle-of-the-road options in order to secure agreement from the members of the bargaining unit—these were rejected by the Town. No other solutions to the Town's problem (not having set aside the money for this contractual obligation) have been put before the members.
Employees of the electric utility owned by the Town of Antigonish have been locked out since early Monday. They are IBEW Local 1928 members. The Town claims the lockout issue concerns pay-outs for unused sick leave when workers retire, but for the workers it is really about the town's failure to negotiate.The Town of Antigonish hired a high-priced lawyer from Halifax over the last year to strip away benefits from the Town’s unionized workers. The Town is willing to pay this lawyer tens of thousands of dollars to remove benefits from the Town’s union contracts, but they refuse to ante up on a promise that was made by the Town to its unionized workers and has existed for some twenty years.
The issue revolves around a retirement benefit that is tied to accummulated sick time. By maintaining a contractual promise of a payout for unused sick time, the Town has benefitted from workers accumulating that time rather than using it. The Town wants to remove that payout and, since their contract expired in March 2013, has insisted that the workers accept a 30% payment of that promise.
Whatever retirement benefits you have, you plan around them. The IBEW Local 1928 members at the Town of Antigonish Electric Utility have been planning to enjoy this benefit at retirement—it is deferred income. For the Town to insist that the terms are changed without the agreement of the people it affects is unfair.
The union negotiating committee has offered several middle-of-the-road options to the Town’s lawyer and Council to attempt to resolve the issue, an issue that confronts us because the Town of Antigonish did not set aside the money for this contractual benefit. Mayor Chisholm has said that the workers are “demanding” 100%—the workers have done no such thing. They have simply stood behind the contract that they have had. The union has not been able to successfully negotiate anything different, even with the help of a conciliator from the province’s Department of Labour. While the Town has run a profitable utility, it has mismanaged the liability associated with its workers’ contract. So they hired a lawyer to make the workers bite the bullet that the Town is trying to dodge.
Yesterday the Town brought in scab labour from out-of-province to deal with an outage to the Town of Antigonish. There is a rally this Friday at 10am in front of the Town Hall in Antigonish.